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  CSPAN    Today in Washington    News/Business. News.  

    September 8, 2010
    6:00 - 7:00am EDT  

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majority, but if you undermine liberty for other youre's children today, own children may one day see their religious liberties deprived from them. and the principles that protect muslims today here in this country will protect christians, jews, and others tomorrow. and that is what makes this a great country. thank you for being here. >> see why so much, reverend. now we would like to hear from dr. michael kenneman, the general secretary of the national council of churches. >> thank you.
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i am the general secretary of the national council, but i am pleased to say that behind me this afternoon our representatives of a number of our member churches. the national council is an umbrella group comprised of 36 of the major denominations in this country, and behind me are leaders in the greek orthodox, armenian orthodox, episcopal, methodists, lutherans, baptist, and other communions, and together we want to say as strongly as we possibly can that we identify ourselves with the statement, excerpts of which you just heard, that we denounce the kinds of bigotry we see across the country in certain parts of the country at this moment and we identified ourselves strongly with the call for religious tolerance and acceptance. we believe at the national council of churches that the diversity of this country strengthens our faith, that we are made deeper and richer and
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our own commitment by virtue of the relationships we have with the muslim and jewish communities and it is an honor to be with those colleagues at this meeting today. . at this meeting, we, as you heard, adopted a statement which we present to you that we hope will be read across the country, perhaps in congregations and mosques and we also talked about next steps as community of faith to carry this word farther beyond these walls and organizations. and these organizations we talked, for example, about calling on our networks, our constituencies to replicate this kind of meeting in local settings across the country so that what happens now in washington at a national level will happen, also, in targeted cities. we talked about how we might do that using our own media networks and also, thanks to
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you. we believe that, for example, that the national council of churches has made an nationals statement that calls for acceptance of muslim neighbors and have spoken out as strongly as we can about the issues you've heard today. but we have also called on state councils of churches, including for example in florida, to initiate activities in their own communities that will say no to this kind of bigotry. we are getting a response already. we hope that will continue. that was part of the meeting today. not simply to stop with the statement, although it response at the moment and must be heard, but also to carry the word of education and hope into the future by calling on local communities, our own networks, to replicate it. i want to say one other word. you've heard this from reverend cizik. christians in the west have
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often been responsible for the kind of and tolerant rhetoric we now hear from various places in this country-- intolerant rhetoric we now hear from various places in the country. it is important for us to say is a christian community to say no, that is not who we are. that means to speak out on behalf of islam as a piece- loving and peace-teaching faith and say these are, indeed, our brothers and sisters. at the national council, we also know there are minority christian communities around the world now that also feel themselves to be threatened by extremist voices in situations that are predominantly muslim, because extremists in those settings may use the rhetoric in this country as a pretext. so it also in christian self interest to speak out strongly
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no a word of tolerance, knowing that are muslim colleagues and other places are doing the same on behalf of minority christian communities there. we live in an interdependent world. it is important that we speak is word of hospitality together. thank you. >> we will take questions and answers in a one minute. let me say quickly, following on the reverend kenneman's point, for the last nine years muslim- americans have been trying to get the message out that we reject the extremist, muslim extremist view of islam, the justification for violence and militancy. has been very difficult for people to hear that message because the actions and statements of the extremists are more dramatic and they get
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more attention. we have had our friends in the christian community and in the jewish committee consistently support us in saying, these are mainstream muslims. the majority of muslims we know are law abiding, ethical, good people. i just want to say for whatever international audience there might be, for any muslims and other parts of the world that are listening, yes, you may have heard some of the loud voices of some christian extremists and others in this country who are, who hate islam, who are making very hurtful statements, but they did not represent america. they do not represent christianity or judaism. these people who are here with us today represent the true values and views of the vast majority of american jews and christians and american citizens. so do not use these incidents as hateful as they are, as hurtful
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as they are, to justify any kind of hatred against america or christians -- american christians or jews. with that, i would open the floor for some questions third >> if i could ask -- >> could you identify yourself? >> abc 7 news. >> hi. [inaudible] i was wondering if anybody else could speak to other next steps and a little bit about what happened at this meeting. how many of you were there? how long to come up with this statement? thank you. >> in terms of next steps, my name is reverend richard killmer, the executive director
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of the national religious campaign against torture. we have been concerned since our founding in 2006 that the victims of u.s.-sponsored torture have been muslims. one of the neck steps that have been discussed is a possibility of another meeting like this one but much larger, with people of various faiths across the country coming together and talk about what are the real strategies we need to do together to end this anti- muslim bigotry, because it is the people in the pews who have the potential for having the most power or have the potential for bringing about the kinds of changes we want to. to bring these folks together, four months perhaps, to hold hands, to figure out what strategies we need now to make sure that this blight on spirit and soul
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dissipate. >> scott from -- got it now? >> the other way. >> it's on. i'll be loud. courtnall, if you might, so much of the past 24 hours -- cardinal, has been what has been planned in florida with the burning of the quran, and the response we heard from general petraeus that he indicated that it could perhaps put military overseas in harm's way, were this video to go worldwide, as the most likely would. what is your concern about the potential danger to our men and women overseas as a result, and what does this say about interfaith relations right now? >> that was one of the reasons i said we need to get the right message out. we need to get the message out that this is not a country where these things happened by the
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majority of people. these are acts of very small, extremist people, who feel they are doing the right thing, i am sure, but have taken themselves out totally from the mainstream of what is kristin eddy or what christianity, judaism, or islam. america?t is the real this is not the real america. never has ben and it never should be. one of the things we do in this document is we say, this is what we believe is the real america. it is a place where religions are respected. you attack one religion, you attack them all. this is true. we are all believers, or people who do not believe in anything, they have the right -- we are not happy with them -- but they have the right to exist and not be attacked by others.
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so this is the first point, that basically, we want to get the message out to people all around the world that the real america is a country that is open, that is guaranteeing freedom of religion and everything else that you need to live a good life. with regards to what the general said, if he's correct, then we are really in trouble, because if somebody does something like this, it will create all kinds of problems all over the world. and i think we must be aware of that. and some of our own people will be hurt by this. they will -- it will not be their fault, but they happen to the americans, christians, jews. there is another reason why we should say to these people, be careful what you do, does -- not just because it is the wrong thing to do, but because you can do more harm to your fellow americans in dangerous areas
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around the world. >> in response to the last two questions, one of the things we did at the table is to identify best practices going on in our local communities, what are we doing to promote interfaith relations in various places? one shared with us how muslim- jewish-christian leaders have taken trips overseas together and developed a statement of principles to guide their actions. part of the problem is we have not shared these things widely enough, we assumed that if we do it locally, that is enough. now we are realizing that we need to be able to share these with one another, that the word about interfaith relations, tolerance, dialogue, will be lifted up as the dominant voice and not hidden, as we have done in the past. >> one more quick word about the question of a florida. not a surprise behind-the-scenes
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there was a lot of discussion going on to try to persuade the people organizing this to abandon the idea, and if it fails, all across the country there are coalitions that will be out protesting for mutual respect and diversity and religious freedom and liberty here in america. a lot depends on you. it is certainly a valid news story, it's a sacred book is burned. but it is also of valley news story when good people of conscience representing -- a valid news story when good people of conscience representing could americans say it has no place in american life. if you accurately it betray that in a balanced way that shows, sides, it will be a constructive step towards lifting up the truth in terms of what america is and where the religious communities of america are turni. >> fox news. cardinal, are you planning to speak to the pastor personally
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on this issue? >> i do not know the gentleman. i am open to do that. probably would be better if someone from his own religious community spoke to him, because he probably will feel that i have a different faith or a different point of view on things. be happy to do it, but some of my friends from the evangelical community who are equally troubled as i am, that might be the answer. i am not trying to put it on someone else, but it seems to be that is the road to travel. if he were a catholic pastor, i would be happy to talk to him right away. >> peace to everybody. i am the president of african- paris inheritage.
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my question goes to the scholards and teachers. as a teacher by profession, i see you have a challenge. most of it as to do with this horrible action of burning the quran. helpre you going oto our students in school, they have so many challenges -- issues like students are attacked by fellow students. what programs have we put in place to address this, especially in public schools? to what occurred >> we did talk -- so the question is about students, i think you mean muslim students who are finding themselves stressed and anxious
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because of all of this negative information and attacks on muslims and islam. there have been a number of studies that have showed that american muslim children have highly increased levels of anxiety, depression. there are scientific studies of this. i'm sure this will increase it. part of the message to the general public is we would like teachers, counselors, a health care workers and others to interact with muslim children who are in the vast majority in public schools, to be mindful of fat and to try to se -- mindful help on and try to seek ehlp o how to manage the tensions that may arise in the class as well as to help the children. this is a pastoral issue, a
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mental health issue, it is, of course, those in counter- terrorism would say it is a security issue, because he did not want the majority of the muslim youth to be alienated from muslim society. to direct this to the muslims around the world, again, the issue of the quran burning, yes, it's hurtful. it is a symbolic act that is intended to hurt and defend, and especially during this holy month of ramadan, muslims know that the quran will not disappear with the burning of a book. it would not disappear with the burning of all the qurans in the world because millions of muslims have memorized the quran. they live it every day. the referred to as their source of ethics and compassion. we as muslims also need to take
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a step back and, although we feel hurt and upset, and although we are alarmed by what this might mean, because of the book burning in history does not have a very good president for the rights of people whose books are burned. a lot of terrible things have happened after a our earnings. it is alarming. our community should feel confident that, in god's word is eternal and will not be harmed by fire. >> talking points memo. >> i am welton gaddy, president of the interfaith alliance. i want to be very specific in responding to what we can teach that will help our children. one, hate is neither a religious ignore the democratic democratic value.
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two, difference -- is a moral category that we can benefit from. thirdly, for americans, the first amendment of the constitution is the best friend their religion has in this nation because it lets religions thrive without establishing one religion over another. if we could inculcate those three lessons in a curriculum, to respond to your question, we would make tremendous progress. >> next question? who has the mike? >> talking points memo. i want to get a sense of what you think -- how you gauge the government's reaction to this, at the white house level and also at the justice department? how would you gauge their reaction to any crimes hate cris
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that have gone on? >> go ahead. >> later this afternoon, some of ill meet with the attorney general. i think many of you know about this already. it comes from an earlier meeting that reverend gaddy and i were pleased to participate in in which we met with the staff over the justice department to talk about this crucial moment, the need for there to be a visible response by the government. doing a lot of of very effective things, they are prosecuting hate crimes, they are acting with their community service division to work together to help reconcile different groups and to defuse the kinds of problems that have arisen
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during the housing division, the pursuit of religious land-use -- that almost everyone here helped write and get through congress 10 years ago. to ensure their religious houses of worship are able to be billed for their believer is a need them to be built. -- be built where believers and need them to be built. it is not being felt enough. there is a need for more vigorous action right now by the government. so, at the attorney general's request, we will meet with the attorney general later today trying to work out what is the most effective way for us to parallel our actions and statements and activity is over the next momentous week to try to live up the clear image that this is no place in american life. >> a quick comment from jim zoby. gby.
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>> i think the administration's handling of this has been a corporate, and i am pleased that the attorney general will be with us later in the day. as our statement notes, some political figures have attempted to make this a wedge issue in this election. while individuals in the congress, senator durbin and mayor bloomberg have made extraordinary statements, many other political leaders and people running for office in this year's election have been disgraceful and have fuleeled this fire and done grave damage to the electorate. it has become a political issue. it should not become that kind of issue. i think we need to speak out against that. >> just to add, this morning,
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to talk to the administration, we had one of the persons representing the administration it with us at the neighborhood planning and the white house initiative on faith based initiatives. all this information has been ferried to the white house so they can have a deeper appreciation of the breadtho of this. >> next question? >> do you think there has been a robust enough pushed back or debunking of a lot of the propaganda that perhaps has laid the groundwork for this reaction we are seeing now? i am thinking of movies like " obsession," "relentless,"which americans have seen it and take as truth and would make them receptive to the messages they
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are hearing now. do you think their has been end of a push back against that and push back about what isalam is really about. >> this is a great question about the response of educators are religious leaders to the distortions about islam. the reality is that there are very well-funded initiatives to spread misinformation about islam. it is on the internet. there are these movies. they take a lot of resources. there are people who are finding these initiatives and these projects. for the missile community, we are finding ourselves also a stretched. muslim community, we are finding ourselves outstretched. we are young community. we are still trying to build mosques. what about schools, outreach? to be able to make movies?
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to have hundreds or dozens of people on the internet making sure that in a global search something accurate comes up about islam. we do not have the resources. we have been focused, also, to countering extremist messages. the last two years and then a lot of questioning of the american desert muslim community, what are you doing about extremists messages on the internet? what about these people trying to lure american muslims into extremist ideology? this is not our area of expertise. we are trying to figure out how to even organize our web pages so that something good comes up when someone goes on and googles islam or jihad. we are stretched. we have not been able to offer a robust response, because we do
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not have the resources. it should not be only our responsibility. when there are so many so-called experts about islam. i have select television as the main place, but these are people who have expertise, no academic credentials, no true institutional representation -- if you go to the american academy of religion, or the middle east studies association, there are hundreds of professors in the united states who are experts on the middle as, on islam, they are completely neglected. maybe they are not charismatic enough for television. i do not know. but it is not all our responsibility, only our responsibility to have accurate information. there are resources available. there are people available. there are excellent books available. and so, there needs to be a bit
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more of a partnership between the people who have the accurate information and those who are lifting up who is an expert on islam in the general media. yeah? >> rabbi steve, the president of the jewish council for public affairs. listen to professor ingrid mattson just caused me to want to stand up and say, it is not just movies like "obsession." it is submitted. it is no longer an option to be silent. it is in our statement -- is significant. but those of us who have been, not silent, but too quiet. we are understanding that we
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must stand up when we see these a lot is being told, when we see by is being spread all over the country, not only academics, thinkers, but common people who say, this is not the america that we came from. this is not the america we will accept. it is an end to silence. is not an option anymore. -- it is not an option anymore. those of us who care about this country, we learned we have to stand up for our muslim brothers and sisters and say, this is not ok. that is what i wanted to answer to you. >> we are really celebrating that our partners from different faith organizations and denominations are here on this very important summit, we want to tell you that islamic society of north america has been
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consistently, continuously involved at the grass-roots level. we are working with the leaders through their grassroots organizations, synogogues, churches, and so on. for example, we have a program with the jewish community, several programs. when we have to wait with the union of reformed judaism -- we have jointly with the union of reformed judaism, bringing together congregations and discussing islam and judaism. it has created a lot of new literature as a new understanding and a lot of partnerships at that level. similarly, we have been celebrating it ever years for the past several years, to bring together muslim organizations, islamic centers, mosques, and
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jewish centers. we have that during one weekend, imams, rabbis, they condemn islamophobia and anti- semitism. we invited these imamas and rabbis from different european countries -- it was a new experience because europe is far behind in the successful integration of muslims in america has become a model for europe in particular. european governments are sending their leaders here to study how these things have been achieved. so, similarly, with the national council of churches at the grass-roots level, we have
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in different cities and states where you have state councils of churches and islamic organizations jointly working, that is what we have today in gainesville, the islamic center and different churches and synagogues together have forced a strong relationship. during this whole month, they have been preparing their people, giving more lessons, more dialogues. gainesville itself has become more dialogue. this act, it is nothing in comparison to the love, respect, appreciation -- it is wonderful
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that it is the month of ramadan. moslems are so much motivated and directed to export their compassion and discipline. in this, it is amazing to see how these different religious groups at the grass-roots level, the mosques and synagogues, are getting together. >> that was the national director of the office of interface and community alliances of the islamic society of north america. >> lori goodstein with "the new york times". you say in your statement that people of good conscience can have different ideas on the muslim communictty center, mosque, near ground zero, yet,
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there will be many people who want to know how you as religious leaders stand on that. did you come to consensus on that? is there anything you can say affirmatively about how, as a group, what position you take on that? >> ok. we really -- the reason we were meeting here today was much bigger than that particular issue. we did not discuss it other than to say the reason we are meeting is what happened because of that around that or is using that as an excuse for this intensifying of anti =-m uslim rhetoric. it was not our focus today.
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i have no idea of what the opinions are, unless they have made public statements. ok. one more question. >> wusa in washington. i have many different friends from different religions. do you think there needs to be a more concerted effort with our religious leaders to promote diversification and the rights of different points of view and belief in the church setting, administering and preaching, as opposed to, this is the way it should be if you do not follow these ways, bad things happen? more unity. hey, your friend across the street, is a good person appeared. . >> i have sympathy with
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ministers. i teach them. it is difficult to get the attention of the conversation to your basic message of their own faith. so i know it is challenging for congregational leaders to integrate other messages into their weekly sermons or into their teaching, but it's not an option anymore. we live in a world in which we are neighbors of people of all different faiths, and we have to know what our own traditions say about those other people. that is part of our religious education. what do you as a christian, or a jew or a muslim belief about other people? what does your religion say about how you should treat them, how you should speak to them, about what rights they have? this has to be part of what we are teaching. it is one of the reasons why isna has done the kind of curriculum he has mentioned.
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our community -- it is important that our community understands the basics of judaism so they don't distort the beliefs of their neighbors. that christians civisimilarly understand some basic things about their muslim neighbors so they are not bearing false witness. this is a violation of one of the commandments, to bear false witness. also in islam. we have to say what is true about the other, and if we do not know, we need to find out through legitimate and reliable sources. i do think that there are many religious leaders who are struggling to find ways to do this education. it is difficult because many people do not get their information, even about their own religion, from their own preacher. if they go to the internet and try to find information.
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so we are all kind of struggling with the new ways that people get information about anything, including their faith or ethics these days, and we are doing the best we can to catch up with that reality. >> general secretary of the american baptist churches. i share the concern and compassion for local pastors with regard to your question. some of the most offensive statements about islam, unfortunately, i have come forth from the baptist community. therefore, some of us as baptist leaders, felt it was important for us to join with isna and our muslim brothers and sisters in order to put together a program that would help us lift this issue in our local congregations of understanding other faiths. the islamic faith, in order that
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we might live out our baptist values of religious liberty. we were borne of persecution as baptist in england and in the commonwealth of massachusetts. and it was for that reason that roger williams founded rhode island, as a baptist guaranteeing religious liberty for the first time. and so that value is dear to us. we cannot uphold that unless we teach our people what that means and the respect for one another, while also adhering to our own faith and understanding that deeply and practicing that. >> the final word? >> let me address your question because i am not pastor as well as president of the interfaith alliance. a pastor in monroe, louisiana. monroe, louisiana, is not a hotbed of liberalism in this
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nation. but i would not say anything here that i would not say in the pulpit, in the congregation. the implication that if you are going to talk about interfaith relations or into religious cooperation, that is an addendum to what you should be talking about christians would say is the gospel, others would say is their faith, and that is a fallacy. it is not an addenda. it is at the heart of what we're talking about. if someone in our conversation says, you should be teaching the gospel. we are teaching the gospel. it is not exclusive. it is inclusive. it is not about hate. it is about love. the people standing here right now are not doing this in spight of oute this is what religion is all
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about. >> my agency has the honor to be doing the twinning program. it is incredibly important to build those human contacts. it is why they are so incredibly vital. when people get to know each other, they are apprehensive at first, today you're crazy stuff. they do not come out the same when they come in. they come out excited, inspired, having been hugged t,
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having been connected. is so incredibly important that we build those kind of him and contacts in this atmosphere. thank you. >> as a pastor, but you are seeing before you today is the simple word communication. it is predicated upon three things. understanding -- we must understand each other. respect -- if we can understand each other, respect each other, and trust each other, we can accomplish the goals that you see outlined on the sheet. thank you. >> thank you for being here. there will be some people waiting around and you can interview. thank you very much. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010]
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>> they are doing a lot of good work, unfortunately more americans don't know about it. >> the problem is speaking out as a moral voice by the administration. >> exactly, to let people know.
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anyone who practices in hate will be prosecuted. they are doing it, they will do it, they will continue to do it. and to make them known to the country. poron is 15 minutes. >> as we approach 9/11, >> we have a special message for -- from the secretary. you have heard from general petraeus in afghanistan. how do you separate the beliefs in the united states and around the world?
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[untellible] >> first of all, people need to understand that in this cotry, we have freedom of religion. we also have freedom f expression. >> first of all, se are our fundamental principles of u.s. society. we are very conscience of -- conscious of what has been discussed as potential acts down florida. we think that these dark provocative? . they are disrespectful. they are intolerant. we are conscious that a number of voices have come out and
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rejected what this pastor and this community have proposed. we would like to see more american stand up and say that this is inconsistent with our american values. these actions themselves are on american. -- un american. the pastor says that he has contemplated his actions to combat radicalism. if these actions -- these actions will feed radicals. the general petraeus mentioned over the weekend they could have least as a powerful impact. at the same time, people around the world need to understand that america is not represented by one pastor or 50 followers. we are a nation of 300 million people.
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the vast majority of americans are standing up this weekend saying that these contemplated actions are inappropriate and should not happen. >> you said a great many people are rejecting this. are you rejecting this? doou feel that this particular group in florida should not do this? >> they should not do this. they potentially put soldiers at risk before any american who is traveling, a diplomat, these actions, whatever their motivation, puts americans and american lives at risk. >> why is un americans? we did you point out that there
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are two principles here. -- you point out that there are two principles here. >> it is one thing to have a right to to halt 1 exercises that right. this is a divisive, potential act of disrespect of one of the world's great religions. while we support -- this is an action that has serious ramifications. it is a statement of intolerance that we believe it is contrary to our values and how wconduct ourselves day in and day out --
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what could be more american than expressing one's freedom of speech. they are in aid to us as americans. -- they are inmates to us as americans. there are far better ways to commemorate 9/11. it represents -- and another act of religious radicalism. >> -- i guess the point -- again, i'm having a hard time -- >> excuse me. i'm having a hard time understanding, first of all, why the state department is getting
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involved in an issue that relates directly to a florida church. >> well, first of all, i was asked. >> well, ok. fair enough. but you made the -- but then you made the observation that what they planned to do is un- american. and i -- >> i think -- there's -- there are a balance -- >> are you prepared to say the same thing if someone wants to -- >> look, there are a balance of interests here. but this, in our view, has the potential to inflame public opinion around the world in a way that will jeopardize american lives and american interests. it does not represent our core values as americans. we hope it does not happen. we hope that between now and saturday, there'll be a range of voices across america that make clear to this community that this is not the way for us to commemorate 9/11. in fact, it is consistent with the radicals and bigot -- with
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those bigots who attacked us on 9/11. >> right. but in fac it is -- but wait -- >> hold on -- matt. matt, others want to ask questions, too. >> you're saying that this may be incitement, but it is still a first endment issue. what really -- what recourse does the government have to, say, go to the city of gaineslle and say maybe you should not issue a bonfire or whatever it is permit and all these things? >> well, i mean, all we really have here is a bully pulpit. the community is going to do what they do. i mean, the city government has declined to provide a permit for this event. the pastor appears to be unswayed by comments by general petraeus and others who have expressed concern about the actionhat is being contemplated. we want to see -- we support a vigorous debate in this country, even about issues that have great sensitivity.
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that said, there is a point where the debate yields to something more significant. we are hopeful, between now and saturday, that a range of voices, whether they're political figures, religious figures, others, can rise and convince this community that there are better ways of commemorating 9/11 than through this action. >> but, p.j., one more thing. the secretary is going to speak out this evening. and second, freedom of expression or freedom of religion doesn't mean that you put the whole country on fire. >> well, and, goyal, there is another side to this. that's true. but if this community goes ahead and -- with this proposed event on saturday, we would hope that the rest of the world will judge us t by the actions of one pastor or 50 followers, but judge us by a tradition that goes back to our founding.
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we did not indict entire countries or an entire religion over the actions of 9/11, and we would hope that the rest of the world does not indict the united states for the actions of one fringe element in florida. >> p.j., can i ask just one on this? are you absolutely certain that you want to stick with the word "un-american" to describe this potential action, or do you want maybe walk back from that word? >> let me define what i meant by this. we have a tremendous tradition of religious tolerance in this country. we believe that the potential act of burning a qu'ran shows enormous disrespect to one of the world's great religions. it is contrary to our values. it's contrary to how civil society has emerged in this country. it is un-american in the sense
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that it does not represent the views of the vast majority of americans who are respectful of religions -- of the world's great religions. so while it may well be within someone's rights to take this action, we believe and hope that cooler heads will prevail and other ways can be found to promote a alogue among the world's greatest religions, which is what we he been trying to do here within this country and within this department since 9/11. >> p.j., i wanted to ask real quick -- you touched on it earlier in your remarks that general petraeus talked aut the risk to members of the military abroad. can you say whether you have similar concerns about whether this poses any threats to americans tourists, for example? >> i think i encompassed that in my remarks. it does.
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to -- we've already seen small- scale demonstrations in various countries overseas where anxiety levels are building because of thpublicity surrounding this proposed action. it does put the lives of ordinary americans at risk, as well as diplomats, as well as soldiers. >> p.j., you don't believe that as far as -- because many americans don't like, as far as building the mosque at ground zero, you think anything to do with that? >> goyal, i don't believe that the proposed events in florida are related -- excuse me -- to the debate -- >> bless you. >> -- in new york. >> p.j., both general petraeus and yourself, and presumably -- and, actually, all federal employees take an oath to uphold the constitution, to defend the constitution. and it seems to mehat whether someone wants to burn a qu'ran or a flag or an american flag
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or the bible or the torah or any other symbol of something that we think or that the general society thinks is a good or a great thing -- like the flag is a symbol of the country which people routinely say is going to have the greatest example of representative democracy on earth, and yet, when people burn american flags in this country or around the world, we don't hear this kind of thing saying that that's un-american. in fact, that's protected speech. so i guess what my question is that it seems to me that while it may be against the values of the great majority of americans for them to do it, you and people in this government, as sworn defenders of the constitution, have the obligation to defend their right to do it, regardless of how abhorrent you find it. >> and, matt, you've made a good scholarly and legal
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argument there, which i accept. i mean, i think you have to distinguish between legal rights that we have -- and freedom of expression and the first amendment are, in fact, enshrined in our constitution as something that we support here and elsewhere every day. what we're concerned about is there is the right and tn there's how you exercise that right. this is a potential action that has serious implications for u.s. interests around the world. it potentially puts american lives at risk. and when you balce out a right and a responsibility, in our view, we hope that this pastor and this community will find a different way to commemorate 9/11 and express a justified concern about religious radicalism anywhere in the world.
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but as americans, i think this is an act of disrespect to a religious symbol and a great religion that we think is uncharacteristicf our tradition and the religious tolerance that has been an essential part of our society and our history. >> on the iftar dinner tonight, in the original notice that went out, secretary clinton was going to speak and deliver live remarks. i'm wondering why she's now delivering taped remarks. and also, why was the time of the event changed? >> that's two different events. >> right. no, it's two different events. >> oh, she -- >> she will be delivering some remarks tonight. >> will she discuss this iss in her remarks tonight? >> i expect she will. >> to ta about what? the mosque or about the florida -- >> she -- i expect that she -- between her remarks tonight and her remarks tomorrow at cfr, i would fully expect that she will comment on this issue. >> do you know on how this individual might be held accountable for anything that happens some 7,000 miles away?
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>> and now that is a matter for lol authorities. but our concern here is that the implications that this has in termsf our relations with president obama will announce plans for new business tax breaks live from parma, ohio, a little after 2:00 p.m. eastern. .